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Published: Thursday, 7/2/2009

Toledo City Council delays vote on new police contract

BY IGNAZIO MESSINA
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Toledo City Council on Thursday refused to vote on a new three-year labor contract for the city s police patrolmen, which requires the officers to temporarily pay into their pension plan, freezes wages for two years, and requires them for the first time to pay a small portion of their health-insurance costs.

"I think the reason this is such a difficult decision is because there are a lot of good parts to the contract and a lot of bad parts," said Councilman Joe McNamara.

The Toledo Police Patrolman s Association ratified the contract Wednesday, said Dan Wagner, union president.

Although the contract freezes wages through the end of next year, the patrolmen will get a 3.5 percent pay increase in 2011.

The officers will have to pay 7 percent of the 10 percent employee pension contribution for six months, after which the city will resume making the entire 10 percent pension payment each year, which is on top of the employer s contribution of 19.5 percent.

Council met in special session at 9 a.m. Thursday. After nearly 90 minutes behind closed doors discussing the tentative agreement, council voted 6-4 to consider a vote on the contract. Since the motion needed nine votes, it failed.

Voting in favor of holding a vote Thursday were councilmen Frank Szollosi, Tom Waniewski, Lindsay Webb, Wilma Brown, Phillip Copeland, and George Sarantou. Voting no were Mr. McNamara, Michael Ashford, D. Michael Collins, and Mike Craig.

Councilman Betty Shultz was not present.

After a three-hour recess, council reconvened that time with only nine members present and again attempted to vote on the contract but could not since only six members were in favor of voting.

Mr. Waniewski did not return to council chambers at 1:30 p.m.

Toledo Mayor Carty Finkbeiner said he was disappointed council did not act swiftly to approve the contract.

"It has not been easy and it doesn t make it any easier if council is divided," Mr. Finkbeiner said.

The mayor said the city would not get a better deal.

In exchange for the half-year partial pension pickup, the patrolmen get an additional 6 vacation days through Dec. 31.

Any new police officers hired will have to pay the full 10 percent of the employee s pension share.

Patrolmen also will have to pay health-care monthly premiums of $25 for single, $40 for single plus one person, and $55 for a family.

After months of calling for wage cuts to help eliminate a 2009 budget deficit, which now stands at about $12.5 million, Mayor Carty Finkbeiner agreed to no police wage cuts and a pay hike for police in the third year of the agreement.

The Finkbeiner administration has asked council to approve cutting the 100 percent tax credit given to Toledo residents who work and pay taxes in another city and raising the trash-pickup fee.

Mr. Wagner said the city asked the union to help lobby council to approve the tax and fee increase.

Mr. Collins demanded that Thursday s meeting not include discussions on the requested trash fee increase or tax credit plan.

The city is also negotiating for concessions with the Toledo Police Command Officers Association; Local 92 Firefighters; AFSCME Local 2058 Supervisors, and Local 7 Communication Operators.

Mr. Finkbeiner also announced Thursday that the city hired Andy Douglas, a retired Ohio Supreme Court justice and a former Toledo councilman, as special counsel for the remaining labor talks.

The mayor earlier this year tried to impose on the patrolmen a 10 percent pay cut, a requirement that they pay the total 10 percent share of the cost of their public pension, and for officers to begin paying part of their medical insurance costs.

The contract saves the city $2.4 million for 2009 and nearly $800,000 in 2010, Mr. Reinbolt said.

The agreement defers all overtime payments for the remainder of 2009 until March 1, 2010, but police officers may choose to take compensatory time instead of banking their overtime.

Mr. Reinbolt said delaying the contract past the July 4 weekend when the city must pay overtime for extra police to work downtown means that cost will have to be paid in this year s budget.

The Finkbeiner administration also agreed to pay patrolmen a 2 percent lump sum bonus in April, 2010, if city income tax receipts exceed $148 million; 4.5 percent if the collections exceed $150 million; 7 percent if taxes rise above $152.5 million, and 9 percent if collections exceed $155 million.

The proposed contract also states:

The union gets a "me-too" clause with the firefighters union and Toledo Police Command Officers Association.

The city will increase wellness benefits from $150 to $300 for singles and $300 to $600 for a family.

Early sick-time payout for officers with 25 years of service.

TPPA will get a 30-day notice before layoffs.

The union will give up a $500 police services allowance stipend for 2009 in return for the lump-sum bonus plan.

There will be no tuition reimbursement through the rest of 2009.

The city and union will commence a pilot program for a 10-hour shift in 2010.

Wednesday night, Mr. Szollosi said he had some concerns.

"The terms seem to be a balloon payment of overtime in the first quarter of 2010, [and] employees are only contributing to their pension through this year, which means the next mayor and the next council will be locked in for two years as well as looking down the barrel of a 3.5 percent increase in 2011," he said.

Contact Ignazio Messina at:

imessina@theblade.com

or 419-724-6171.



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